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Sponsoring Visiting Scholars

Criteria Procedure

Criteria and Tips for Sponsoring a J-1 Scholar

The Exchange Visitor Program, administered by the U.S. Department of State allows the University to use the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa status to invite or employ foreign professors, research scholars, short-term scholars and specialists in the United States temporarily (a maximum of three years). Please note that in September 2002 the Department of State issued a new form DS-2019 to replace the form IAP-66.

Most J-1 appointments fall into one of the following four categories:

•  A Research Scholar is "an individual primarily conducting research, observing, or consulting in connection with a research project" and "may also teach or lecture unless disallowed by the sponsor."

•  A Professor is "an individual primarily teaching, lecturing, observing, or consulting" and "may also conduct research unless disallowed by the sponsor."

•  The Short-term Scholar category permits individuals to come to the U.S. University for short-term academic exchange for the purpose of lecturing, consulting or research. Extensions beyond the six-month period are not permitted. Persons in this status may receive compensation from, including reimbursement for expenses, honorarium and/or salary.

•  J-1 Specialist is "an individual who is an expert in a field of specialized knowledge or skill coming to the U.S. for observing, consulting, or demonstrating special skills." This designation is limited to one year only.

The J-1 Exchange Visitor category may not be used for the following:

•  The employment of persons in nonacademic staff positions

•  Tenure-track or tenured faculty appointments

Length of Stay

Most J-1 programs require a minimum stay of three weeks and allow a maximum stay of three years. The short-term scholar category allows an exchange visitor to enter even for a day or two, with a maximum stay of six months. At the end of a scholar's J program, they are given a 30-day grace period in which they can remain in the U.S., but must not be employed. During this time, they can apply for a change of status or depart the U.S.

Sponsoring an Individual in J-1 Status

The hiring department must consider the following responsibilities and criteria of the J-1 status before appointing a scholar in J-1 status:

•  Departments must ascertain that the international scholar has appropriate academic credentials (including English language proficiency) to be appointed to and benefit from an academic affiliation with the University.

•  It is important that the scholar has a designated academic/research counterpart or mentor to assist him/her personally and professionally.

•  The Sponsor/Mentor should initiate communication with the scholar prior to arrival in order to address professional obligations and related concerns. It is important to clearly outline to the scholar his or her direct responsibilities and expectations (for example, that the main goal of the visit is to conduct an academic research on a concrete project and not to take classes for credit, etc).

•  It is advisable that the Sponsor/Mentor provides the scholar with information and assistance regarding temporary and permanent housing, local community resources, and any other appropriate information or assistance needed.

•  The scholar and any accompanying dependents must have adequate financial support and health insurance coverage to be eligible for J-1 status. The University is required by federal regulations to obtain evidence of this.

•  The intent of the appointment/affiliation with the University must be temporary, and the visitor must plan to return home upon completion of the educational objective.

•  The exchange visitor may only perform duties limited to the preestablished educational objectives as stated on the DS-2019 form. Any additional employment must be incidental to the visitor's primary program activities, must be directly related to his or her original objectives, and must be authorized by OIP.

•  The exchange visitor must be in the correct status and the University's sponsorship before he or she can commence employment and receive any payment or compensation.

•  An exchange visitor may not change departments within the University without first obtaining approval from OIP.

•  Departments should notify OIP of terminations/departures of exchange visitors.

The primary advantages of the J-1 status are that it can be obtained relatively easily and quickly, and that it usually allows the spouse and dependents holding J-2 status to work while in the U.S. There are also tax advantages, including the fact that J-1 exchange visitors usually do not have to pay FICA in their first two years that they are in the U.S.

Scholars who are unsure of their future plans with respect to employment in the U.S. and who would be subject to the two-year home country residence requirement would do well to consider alternative visa classifications.

Employment Authorization and Conditions

The J Exchange Visitor status carries with it certain obligations unique to this designation. In general, J visa holders have conditions on their stay in the U.S. and return to their home country, employment, and health insurance coverage.

Two-Year Home Country Residency Requirement

J-1 individuals who have received direct funding from their government or the U.S. government, or whose skills are deemed to be in short supply by the home country, are obliged to leave the United States upon completion of their programs. These scholars may not change their immigration status to another nonimmigrant category permitting employment, such as H-1B status, or adjust their status to that of permanent resident until they have completed the obligatory stay of two years in their home country. In some cases, this requirement may be waived upon recommendation of the home government, or on other grounds. The final authority to grant the waiver lies with the U.S. Information Agency (USIA). The two-year home country residence requirement does not, however, apply in all cases, since there are many countries that do not maintain a list of skills in short supply.

Health Insurance Requirements

In addition to the two-year home country residence requirement, J-1 scholars must also carry adequate health insurance for themselves and any accompanying dependents in order to maintain valid status. As of September 1, 1994, regulations require all J-1 and J-2 visa holders to have health insurance.

Responsible Officer and Alternate Responsible Officer

Every US institution of higher education has a "Responsible Officer" (RO), and one, or more, "Alternate Responsible Officer" (ARO) for the J-1 visa program. Mr. My Yarabinec, Coordinator of Study Abroad and International Exchange Programs, serves as the "Responsible Officer" for San Francisco State University , and Ms. Marilyn Jackson, Coordinator of International Grants and Protocol, serves as the "Alternate Responsible Officer." For more information, contact either of these two Office of International Programs staff.

Procedure for Sponsoring a J-1 Scholar

The Exchange Visitor Program, administered by the U.S. Department of State allows the University to use the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa status to invite or employ foreign professors, research scholars, short-term scholars and specialists in the United States temporarily (a maximum of three years). Please note that in September 2002 the Department of State issued a new form DS-2019 to replace the form IAP-66.

The form DS-2019 is the document required for a scholar to obtain a J-1 exchange visitor visa. The first step to take is to make an appointment with Ms. Marilyn Jackson, Alternate Responsible Officer, at OIP to discuss the case and to secure the proper application forms. Please note that the DS-2019 is issued by OIP upon receipt of the following from the hiring/sponsoring department:

•  Department Request Form ( TYPED ) with all requested information, with signatures of support from the Chair of the Department and the Dean of the College;

•  Invitation/Offer Letter signed by the Dean or Chair of the hiring department (if applicable);

•  Departmental (or other) Verification of Financial Support ;

•  Signed "Agreement to Purchase and Maintain Health Insurance in the U.S." form

•  Copy of Scholar's Resume;

•  Copies of Immigration Documents (if scholar is already in the US).

Plans to invite a J-1 scholar should begin three to four months in advance of the start date of the appointment to allow for document preparation, mailing immigration documents, and visa processing. In some cases, scholar may experience significant delays in visa processing due to increased U.S. government security requirements.

In the event that a scholar is delayed, and unable to enter the US and begin the program by the "start" date assigned on the DS-2019, the faculty sponsor is OBLIGATED to notify OIP in order that appropriate changes can be made in the SEVIS data base. To not do so is to risk substantial problems for the scholar due to the inconsistency of the information provided to the immigration authorities

If the scholar is outside of the U.S., the department should send the form DS-2019 to the scholar via airmail or by courier service (recommended). The scholar will then take the DS-2019 to the U.S. Embassy or consulate to get their entry visa. If the scholar is in the U.S. under the sponsorship of another J-1 program and wishes to transfer their J-1 status to SFSU, please follow the University's see Extension/Transfer of J-1 Sponsorship guidelines (see Ms. Marilyn Jackson at OIP).



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Last modified April, 2008, by the Office of International Programs